When Cameron (ex-UK prime minister) announced the date for a referendum on the exit of Britain from the European Union, most assumed that the likelihood of success (including the prime minister) was less than 30% -- not insignificant but also not terribly likely. What won the Brixit was a mixture of economic lies (there will be not cost -- probably savings) and xenophobia. The movement away from world integration has over the past 10 years gained a lot of strength.
Most "anti foreigners" don't actually know foreigners. I come from Canada, and there was a small village near the city of Montreal that actually passed an anti-sharia law ordinance. This made the national press (I think it was actually picked up by a number of foreign newspapers as well). What was amazing, and was discovered several weeks later -- there was not a single muslim living in that village -- not ONE. The people had a fear about something they had never faced. Equally, some of the most remote towns and villages in the province of Quebec -- who had virtually no contact with anglophones were the most virulent supporter of Quebec's nationalist party. They see no english, they heard no english, english was not part of their daily, weekly or annual consciousness. Still they were for the independence from the rest of "Anglo" Canada.
London, that has seen the biggest influx of foreigners, and yet voted at 75% to stay within the European Community.
England and Canada are not the only ones, Austria (lovely country same about the people) and even the Netherlands (lovely people shame about the traffic jams) have seen a resurgence of nationalism -- and this is not to discuss France's ever popular National Front. Like all things, globalism suffers from the pendulum effect, but it also suffers from the benefits being diffused and the cost being specific. Love the new Iphone or the new flat TV, don't like the smell from the kitchen next door, and they were funny cloths, and they speak of funny language and they are not white!
The recent disaster that is Syria and the mass exodus of a persecuted people -- largely because of a European war was waged there, and not that well or with much conviction. The real risk of the Syrian refugees is that they are smarter and better educated -- these are people who decided that the risk of departure was worth it, because for most, they had the necessary skills. Germany has seen its fare share of scandals of late -- suppression of police report for sexual aggression at New Years party or public pool behavior that is unacceptable...There is always a good reason why ALL foreigners should be excluded from the behavior of a few cretins.
Still the trend is there, there is a backlash against openness. The US that have accepted less then 10,000 refugees are an excellent example of fear over fact, but that's where America is right now. Fear of foreigners (when in reality most terrorist acts in the US have been home grown and of the "right wing" variety), a desire for a safer time, when everything was good. BTW this time never existed, except maybe on TV.
Anyway, for liberals times are difficult, I think my side failed in many respects: First, the "losers" those who saw their livelihood disappear so that some guy in China would have a job, these people have not been compensated. We regularly compensate capital for its loses, labor not so much. Not listening, not addressing their real (and sometimes imagined) grievances is a grave mistake because it opens the door to people like Donald Trump. Yes he is a demagog and does lay a line of BS about a mile thick, but it remains that a large segment of America's population have seen no benefits and a great deal of losses from globalisation.
Globalisation has helped in reducing aggression; there is no doubt that Europe's 60 year of peace was bought via globalisation. That case has not been well made -- or if it has it has been solely at the academic level. Between the late 19th century and the middle of the 20th century, Europe saw a number of wars and conflicts (civil wars). The wealth created in China has brought that country closer, sure its game in the South China seas are troublesome, they played rough and lost -- there will be a solution, for although the South China sea is an important sea passage, so is the sea passage in the middle east -- 100% of China's oil security is assured by America's 6th fleet. There is far more that units China and America than separates them! Globalisation has insured that the players are aware of these facts, and act accordingly.
I firmly believe that the case for globalisation will be made, the next 24 months will be telling. I suspect that Britain will face substantial costs from exiting the Eurozone, that the new deal will cost nearly as much as the old deal, and that in exchange Britain will have less say and less power --even over immigration. That could be the turning point, showing the real benefits of the European Union, of freeer trader barriers and legal migration. We shall see.